By admin | January 29, 2014
By Richard Allen
Kurt Busch has never been one to swim with the current, and it appears as if little has changed since he made the jump from Furniture Row Racing to Stewart-Haas Racing over the off season. The 2004 Sprint Cup champion has already made waves of sorts by stating that he has a “70% chance” of driving in this year’s Indianapolis 500, a race that is contested on the same day as NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“It’s actually grabbed better traction over the last couple of weeks and gotten me excited to say that the percentage has been going up instead of down,” the Las Vegas native said during the Sprint Media Tour. “The teams that are showing interest and the sponsors, the opportunity is there.”
Busch’s co-owner, Tony Stewart, has done the Indy/Charlotte double and his new teammate and former IndyCar driver, Danica Patrick, has herself been the subject of speculation regarding the two race feat. Busch has never driven one of the open wheel cars in competition.
“I have Gene’s blessing, I have Tony’s blessing,” Busch pointed out to the assembled media. “I think we have even rounded up some partners that will make the transportation easier. Things have started to gather. I don’t know when we’ll have a decision but we now have to understand how NASCAR’s qualifying procedures will work and the time that I cannot be out of the Cup car to go do Indianapolis stuff. We have to make sure we balance that and not sacrifice too much from the 41 Haas Automation car.”
Stewart-Haas Racing set up for great success or great implosion–> http://racingwithrich.com/?p=2491
Robby Gordon was the last driver to run both races on the same day back in 2004. The task became too difficult after the Indianapolis Motor Speedway moved the start time of their historic race from noon ET to 1:00pm back in 2005. However, the Indy spectacle has started at noon ET since 2011, once again making travel between sites logistically possible.
Busch said on Monday that he has been most involved in negotiations with Michael Andretti’s Andretti Autosport team for an Indy ride, but there was another team interested as well.
On Tuesday, it was revealed that the other team was Chip Ganassi Racing.
“I’ve talked to him,” Ganassi team president Steve Lauletta said. “I don’t know if it’s going to work for us. We haven’t gotten to a point where we know if we can run a fifth car for the Indy 500. If we did that, then we’d be able to have a more detailed conversation. But we haven’t made that decision yet.”
And Busch isn’t the only one at Stewart-Haas Racing who has shown a willingness to go off in multiple directions at the same time. Team co-owner Gene Haas has also been thinking outside the so-called box with his stated desire to get involved in Formula 1.
“Everybody says I’m out of my mind,” Haas told reporters on Monday. “They think this is just another of my egghead schemes. The shock was when (F1 boss Bernie) Ecclestone said the other day, ‘I don’t think these guys know what they’re doing’. That’s a tough one to overcome. I’ve met with him and he’s always been very cordial and accommodating, almost encouraging. But now, maybe he’s thinking about how tough it would be and about how many others have tried and failed.”
His thoughts of owning an F1 team aren’t the first time Haas has made the decision to sail into seas that might prove to be stormy. When it was announced last season that Busch would join SHR, it quickly became apparent that Haas essentially acted unilaterally to make the acquisition of the talented driver happen.
After all, it was Haas who conceived the idea to bring Busch on board and he who will finance the 41 car operation through his Haas Automation company. The businessman has admitted that partner Tony Stewart was not always on board with the decision to expand to a four car operation and that he may have overstepped his bounds initially. But during the Sprint Media Tour’s time with SHR, Haas was able to joke that “even Tony is coming around to the idea”.
What is also apparent is that both Kurt Busch and Gene Haas are willing to seek out new directions in which to go in a sport that for too long now has been made up of a school of fish only willing to swim with the current.
I also know one other thing. Should Busch be able to make his Indy 500 ride happen, I will pay more attention to that race than I have in quite some time. And that will likely be true of many other race fans. Also, the same can be said of my interest in Formula 1 should Haas’s attempt at entering be successful.
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